NBA Betting Odds & Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Magic vs. Pistons, Pelicans vs. Nets & More (Wednesday, October 19)
Pictured: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans.
- The NBA season tipped off last night, but it kicks into high gear Wednesday with 12 games on the evening slate.
- Our NBA analysts are betting five of those matchups, including Magic vs. Pistons and Pelicans vs. Nets.
- Read on for their best bets for tonight's action.
Tuesday night's NBA Tip-Off games were a mere sampling. Tonight, we get a full slate of basketball to bet with 12 glorious opening night games on the schedule.
The slate is buoyed by two national TV matchups — Knicks vs. Grizzlies (7:30 p.m. ET) and Mavericks vs. Suns (10 p.m. ET) — but our analysts are all over the map with their plays tonight. They are hitting spreads, totals, player props and more for their seven picks.
Read on for their in-depth analysis and best bets for Wednesday's slate.
NBA Odds & Picks
Washington Wizards vs. Indiana Pacers
Andrew O'Connor-Watts: Tonight, I lean to the Wizards at -2, but their lack of recent success is keeping me away from the side and steering me towards the total.
While I’m not very high on the Wizards as an organization in the long-term or the short-term, they’re a team with a number of good players on the roster.
Despite the fact that the Wizards should have moved on from Bradley Beal years ago, they still have a top-20 player on their roster. And teams with those types of players win games in the regular season.
By keeping Beal, they’re keeping in a state of perpetual purgatory that can only be remedied by a full tank and rebuild — a proposition they simply refuse to give in to. The result is a disappointing, if not boring team that will beat most of the bad teams and lose to the good ones.
Washington is 1-4 ATS in their last five games and 3-9 ATS in their last 12 on the road. When we look at the head-to-head matchup, the Wizards boast a 6-2 record SU in their last 8 games vs. Indiana. But on the road, the Wizards are a shabby 0-4-1 ATS in their last five and 1-5 SU in their last six.
In this spot, I’m looking at the two teams’ history to tell us how to play this matchup, and I’m looking at a total over 228. The majority of the personnel on both teams are strictly offense and little-to-no defense, which is always a good case for the over, so the eye-test fits the narrative.
But eye test can only get us so far. It helps to look at past trends to determine whether the eye-test is telling an accurate story. In the Pacers’ last five games, the total has gone over every single time and in the last eight games against the Wizards, the total has gone over seven times.
It’s early in the season and we don’t know exactly how teams will be running their offense just yet, but if the Pacers are going to show talent in any aspect of the game, it’s going to be on offense, and they could very well be horrendously bad on defense.
Over 228 is more than a safe bet for two teams that have no interest in defense and will be looking to figure out their offensive schemes.
Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons
Chris Baker: The Orlando Magic are a team that I will consistently back early in the season as I think that they are one of the most underrated teams in the NBA heading into the season. The Pistons on the other hand have been one of the most publicly bet win total over teams and I just don’t really get all the hype with the Pistons.
They got two explosive athletes in Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren in the NBA Draft and they added Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Bojan Bogdanovic via trades. They also picked up Marvin Bagley in free agency but he is out with an injury for the first few weeks of the season.
The Pistons definitely got better, but Ivey and Duren are going to struggle early on, and I’m not sure how motivated Bogdanovic will be going from a championship contender to a bottom-10 team in the NBA.
The Magic, on the other hand, return the vast majority of their players and should have no chemistry issues early on. Banchero is a rookie but he is by far the most “nba-ready” rookie in his draft class so I don’t see him struggling here especially since he will likely be guarded by a combination of Saddiq Bey, Bogdanovic, and Isiah Stewart.
Franz Wagner would go top-five in a re-draft of the 2021 NBA draft class and Jalen Suggs should be improved year-over-year. Wendell Carter Jr. is one of the most underrated bigs in the NBA and should have no issues getting to his spots against a relatively young and small Detroit frontcourt.
New York Knicks vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Sam McQuillan: Evan Fournier exploded in his Knick debut, dropping 32 points on opening night against Boston a year ago. It’d end up the highlight of a turbulent first season in New York; those sort of outburst were routinely followed by goose eggs. Betting on the Frenchman is tricky, but when he’s on he’s on — and on opening night he’s always on.
He’s gone over this 11.5 point total in each of his last six games to start the season. He averages 14 points against Memphis for his career and has scored at least 12 in nine of their last 10 matchups.
Jalen Brunson’s arrival is likely the reason for this low point total, but I fully expect Fournier to still get his touches. Head coach Tom Thibodeau recently called Fournier the best shooter on the team and his decision to keep him in the starting lineup over rising sophomore Quentin Grimes, who reportedly held up a trade for Donovan Mitchell, is telling.
New York Knicks vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Brandon Anderson: What NBA team do you think had the best cover rate in the league over the last two seasons?
Did you guess the New York Knickerbockers? You really should have, considering this is a Knicks pick. Call it the Thibs effect. The Knicks are a whopping 80-56-2 ATS over the past two seasons, covering 59% of the time. For all the criticisms, fair and unwarranted, the Knicks under Thibs always show up and compete hard every night.
Of course, that's the reputation the Memphis Grizzlies have too, but I'm looking to fade Memphis early this season. The Grizzlies had the second best record in the league but start the year without three important rotation pieces from last year. Kyle Anderson and DeAnthony Melton left in the offseason, and Jaren Jackson Jr. is out injured.
Jackson's injury is huge on both ends for Memphis. He's the linchpin defensively, protecting the rim and switching on the perimeter. But he might be just as important offensively, since his shooting spaces out the offense and gives Ja Morant room to operate in the paint. Jackson's absence causes a trickle-down effect. It makes the starting unit weaker but also further lightens a bench unit that was secretly the strength of last year's team.
New York's bench unit should be as strong as ever, and the starters are improved with the addition of Jalen Brunson. I expect the Knicks to show up and compete defensively, and I like New York's depth advantage over a thinner Memphis team trying out some new younger pieces in depth. I'll take the Knicks to cover the opener, and I'll sprinkle the +190 ML too.
Houston Rockets vs. Atlanta Hawks
Munaf Manji: Jalen Green comes into this season with the keys to the offense in his hand for the Houston Rockets. Dating back to last season, after the All-Star break, Green made significant strides in scoring the basketball. In fact, last season after the All-Star Break, Green points per game shot up from 14.6 to 22.1.
Christian Wood and Eric Gordon sat for most of the final stretch of the season last year allowing Jalen Green to get comfortable in the NBA in his rookie year and within Stephen Silas's offensive system.
Additionally, last season, over the final nine games of the season, Jalen Green scored 23 or more points in eight of those games. Coming into this year, Wood is no longer on this team which opens up more shots for Jalen Green.
In three of the four preseason games this year, Green led the Rockets in shot attempts and scored 23 or more points all in three of those games. In a game tonight where the total is currently set at 233, I expect this game to be fast-paced and shots to be plenty.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Brooklyn Nets
Jim Turvey: This line came out at plus money and is already on the move at most books, and with good reason. McCollum averaged 5.8 assists per game in his 26 games with the Pelicans last year after being traded from Portland, and with Zion Williamson now back, look for CJ to be in even more of a creator role.
Preseason doesn't matter for much, but I did find it worth noting that McCollum did indeed fit snuggly into that playmaker role, with 14 assists in just 58 minutes. That comes out to 8.7 assists per 36 minutes.
Both of these teams should play with a fast pace, as the 231 over/under total implies. There should be lots of possessions for McCollum to reach this number, and the Nets defense is still far from spectacular, especially in the backcourt.
The Pelicans are so evenly dispersed talent-wise in their starting lineup that it also makes it hard for teams to target McCollum with other team's best defenders.
Finally, this should also be a tight game, with neither team likely to run away and hide, meaning McCollum should get a solid minute total–something that may not be a guarantee every game with this talented Pelicans team.
This is a bet I am going to be looking to make early and often this season until the books adjust and Wednesday's opener is a perfect start against a face-paced, poor defensive team in Brooklyn.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Brooklyn Nets
Joe Dellera: Zion makes his much anticipated return to the court and he looks in shape and spry after a solid preseason where he averaged 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in just 17.7 minutes.
Zion topped out at 24 minutes in the third preseason game against the Spurs when he recorded 5 assists and in his last game against the Heat he racked up 4 assists in just 10 minutes – we do not need a ton of time for him to be Point Zion.
Looking back to his sophomore season, he had an Assist Percentage of 18.8% which was in the 89th percentile for Bigs and he really developed that skill. Now, he has had a year off to familiarize himself with the offense even more and a full offseason to work with an improved offensive core that brought in CJ McCollum.
In 2021, Zion averaged 3.7 assists per game while recording three or more in 40-of-61 games, four or more in 33-of-61, and five-plus in 24-of-61 and he topped out at eight assists on three different occasions.
I’ll take his 2.5 assists at plus money and sprinkle on 4+ (whenever it pops) and 5+ (+825 Bet365) against what should be a high scoring and competitive game against the Brooklyn Nets.